Hire an Experienced Georgia Workers' Compensation Attorney
If you haven't already consulted an attorney, you should definitely do so when you are considering settling your Georgia workers' compensation claim. If you have already consulted an attorney, you should hire them before you proceed any further with discussing settlement, and the sooner the better. Abraham Lincoln's statement that "He who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client" is true when dealing with the complex and specialized area of Georgia workers' compensation, and there are just too many variables involved to attempt to settle your claim without the guidance of an experienced practitioner.
Ensure that Your Settlement Agreement Includes Social Security Offset Language
Your settlement agreement should include language which states that it is the intent of the parties to treat any settlement proceeds payable to you as if they are to be spread out over the course of your remaining life expectancy, even if you in fact receive your settlement as a present-value lump sum amount. In Georgia, this language is referred to as "Hartmann language" (named after the lawyer who initially drafted this language for use by the Board), and this language protects your current or future SSDI benefits against being otherwise reduced or eliminated.
Ensure that Your Settlement Agreement Considers Medicare's Interests if Necessary
In some cases, your Georgia workers' compensation settlement must also include language that protects Medicare's interests in addition to language that deals with Social Security offsets. Medicare is government health insurance linked to SSDI and specific language should be included in your settlement documents to ensure that your interests, as well as those of Medicare, are protected. The issues involved with protecting Medicare's interests in workers' compensation settlements are complex (and change too frequently to adequately address here) and should therefore be discussed with an experienced Georgia workers' compensation attorney.
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